The Exiles - racing in Egypt in the 50's
Posted: Friday 21st August 2020
I was browsing through a site relating to RAF Station Kasfareet when I came upon a page concerning Exiles CC. This page brought back many happy memories, as I was an active member of this club from September 1950 until April 1952. I have an album full of photographs relating to my time with the club and I have attached three that you may find interesting.
When I arrived in Egypt in 1950 the bikes were bits and pieces that had been assembled to resemble racing bikes. However, we did manage to purchase new “Legnano” Italian racing cycles from a company named E.A. Romali of Cairo, with the help of PSI funds. Following the purchase of these cycles, we were subsequently invited to take part in a few races against the civilian clubs in Cairo and Alexandria. We in turn invited the civilians back to the Canal Zone to take part in a Team Time Trial from the outskirts of Port Said to the outskirts of Ismailia. They were not permitted to race on the camp roads.
Regarding the Buckshee Wheelers, I have no recollection of them still being in force during 1950/52. Our club at that stage had no connection with them.
My reminiscences go back to 1953 when I was in the RAF and, sadly, got posted to the Suez Canal Zone. Having been quite keen on cycling in civilian life I joined the EXILES Club, stationed at 107MU, RAF Kasfareet. I managed to buy a Hetchins “curly”-framed cycle from a chap going home to the UK (wish that I had brought it home with me!). I rode Club runs and served as an official on various events out there for the next two and a half years. As, in 1954, my “tour-ex” approached I decided to select a decent frame and a set of good components to match it to be delivered more or less when I returned to the UK.
My frame choice, after much deliberation was the Macleans Eclipse, priced (if I remember rightly) at 17 guineas. Frame and various bits, wheels, saddle etc from various sources duly arrived soon after my homecoming in November 1955. The Macleans Eclipse frame came via British Rail, wrapped in numerous layers of thick corrugated brown paper.
Excitement and feverish unwrapping revealed a beautiful “kingfisher blue” frame with chrome front and rear fork-ends. Beautiful!. Then the build: Weinman 27″ HP rims; Baylis Wiley large flange Q/R hubs topped off (I believe)with Dunlop HP tyres. A single 18T fixed sprocket with a 48T Williams chainset, Brooks B17, Maes handlebars, GB brakes.
I rode fixed for many years then at some time in the seventies fitted a 5-speed block and a double chainwheel. I rode several Audax events the longest being 300km from Bristol to Meriden. Others were mainly 50, 100 and 200km. Only the frame and bottom bracket remain to this day – currently in a powder-coat green.
A young neighbour of mine spotted it in my garage a couple of days ago and seemed pretty keen to build up something from it but I have declined his offer to buy it, in fact I might even consider building it up myself!!
I have taken a few photos especially the rear fork-end bearing the KC978 number (left).